Instruments: Tumbling Block Tower, Tarot Deck
You are the magnum opus created by an artist, made for a specific purpose--made to be perfect. And you must remain perfect.
Game Content WarningsThese are content warnings that are from the game prompts and are present in all playthroughs.
Playthrough Content WarningsThese are content warnings specific to this playthrough only.
Word Count: 2,970 Played: Nov 1, 2022
The first thing I saw when the world came into focus was the short, splotchy face of a man holding a paintbrush. He dabbed his palette, stabbed me in the eye, and everything became clear.
He laughed at me, fiddled with a device clipped to the brush, then introduced himself as my brother. He asked if I remembered him. I couldn’t. He looked scoffed and shook his head, then told me I would in time.
I asked him who I was and he told me I was his brother, that I had his appearance and should have his soul.
I tried to reach out to join him in the paint-covered studio, but something stopped me. It was as if a glass sheet had been placed in front of me.
When I asked him about it, he found it amusing that I knew what glass was, but not even my own name. His laughter felt like shame.
I turned from him and found I could at least move within the confines of the painted landscape. I did not speak to him the rest of the day.
|Page of Wands||You need to find what makes you, you. Put this card on top of the tower and build on top of it. If all blocks above fall, you may choose to continue or end.|
|3 of Wands||Something stirs a vague memory of your construction.|
|King of Pentacles||Someone criticizes you. Why is it true?|
|8 of Swords||Your creator stops work early today and calls everything worthless Build 2 blocks|
He was excited today, pacing around the room, tidying and explaining to me how an old teacher was coming to visit.
He scraped the paint off the floor, cleared away all the coffee cups and half-rotten food, and put his brushes away neatly into the drawers.
I remember the smell of the coffee on his breath before I was aware. I could feel it ingrained in the brushstrokes of my flesh and clothes. It felt familiar and warm.
He placed a sheet over me, telling me I would be the grand reveal for his teacher. Around me the world went dark, as if I had been painted in a night scene instead of day.
I could hear their footsteps and voices. A loud woman with a thick accent and a jolly voice talked miles and miles about all the other works in the room. Before He pulled the sheet from me in his grand reveal.
I could see it in her face. Her clenched teeth, her raised eyebrows and the small “oh.”
His face was frozen and he was desperately searching for approval.
She nodded and said, “Well, I mean, I just remember him looking … different. But it’s how you want to remember your brother.”
That word sounded wrong. That word felt wrong. It all felt wrong.
She left soon after and he stood staring at me. He glared deep into my eyes as if it were somehow my fault, before throwing the sheet back over me.
I was in darkness for weeks.
|4 of Wands||you copy your creator’s habits. You are pleased +3 Blocks|
|Temperance||What do you feel your purpose is? Pull from the tower|
|2 of Wands||What part of your body feels integral to you? What part is interchangeable? +2 Blocks|
|Seven of Pentacles||Some supplies have not arrived. How does he react?|
Eventually, he pulled the sheet from over me. He stood there, head tilted, legs crossed, and coffee in his hands.
He started to ask me questions:
What do I remember? Nothing
Who were our parents? I don’t know.
How old am I? Less than a year?
Do I remember how I died? No.
Each time, he fiddled with the device on the brush, and I found myself fiddling with the ring he had painted on my finger. It was a plain band of silver. I suppose it was more realistic… but I can’t help but wish he had painted me something finer.
If I could be changed so easily with paint, do I have to remain like this? I had to be his brother, but even he knew I wasn’t yet him.
I asked, softly, tenderly, leading him to think it was his own idea. Perhaps I needed adjustments to be better. I was too harsh.
He frowned and said maybe when the paints arrived. He left again, but at least left me uncovered.
|10 of Cups||Who do you find yourself going to for comfort? +2 Blocks|
|3 of Pentacles||What does your creator do with the other pieces?|
|The Star||What desire is unrealistic Pull from the Tower|
|10 of Swords||You attempt something you know they will fail. What happens? +3 Blocks|
There was a painting directly across from me. She was lovely, soft, and beautiful. Her paint was still but still I envied. She was painted with a smile, a coy look in her eyes, and cascades of long, soft hair. She looked happy with herself.
I find myself wishing I was her and wanting it to be a mirror.
But, like all the other paintings, she was soon sold to a collector. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I left the painting that day.
I could hear him calling out to me as I was out of frame, seeking the statues along the garden I was painted in.
They too could talk like me, but looked nothing like what he had painted. They were abstract, color bleeding out from jagged lines, and eyes floating around heads.
They listened to me, they talked to me and I felt they knew something I didn’t but wouldn’t tell me. I visited them often.
He wasn’t pleased he couldn’t see me. He called to me, wondering where I was and why I wouldn’t talk with him.
I couldn’t explain it. I was irrational. It wasn’t mine. I wasn’t his. And I did nothing when I saw him take his palette knife and cut through the canvas.
He was curious when he did it. I think he was trying to break through the glass that wasn’t there, but it slid through the paint and made a hole in my world.
I couldn’t go to him until he fixed it.
|3 of Swords||What do you love about your creator? What do you hate?|
|Ace of Wands||You discover a secret, it will ruin him. Do not Discard this card|
|The Chariot||What is your ambition? How do you go about achieving it? - 1 Block|
|King of Swords||You are criticized something that he praised before? Do not Discard this Card|
As hard as it is to hear him call my name, I still love it when he does. It doesn’t feel right… in so many ways. He still hopes that I will remember who I was.
I fear he will learn my secret, but I fear more about being covered. I don’t want to live in the night where I cannot see the world.
My friends, the statues, and all the other works are lovely, but I want to see the real world too. I want to see more windows.
I found that I can leave my own canvas. I traveled through the darkness through the rip in the page and through the gaps in the paint into a landscape on the other wall. I could see more of the room. More paintings, more cups, more coffee stains.
Through the night I traveled, looking through more canvas windows until I stumbled upon a real one. I could see out into a garden where the flowers were blooming. But I could also see myself in the reflection. I couldn’t bear it.
I returned to my own canvas. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t face him when he came in to question me today.
He became irate, telling me that I had improved so much, that he didn’t understand why I couldn’t remember.
He then grew very quiet and asked me if I remembered how I died. I still knew nothing, but he asked again, quieter, tenser.
I insisted, finally turning to face him. He had the palette knife again, and looked at me dead in my face. I couldn’t recognize him.
Once again I insisted and quietly, almost inaudibly, he said, “you had better not.”
|Ace of Pentacles||you find a private hoard of wealth -2 Block|
|The Fool||The hand, the instrument, and the art -1 Block|
|Knight of Pentacles||You are what your creator will be remembered for. How do you want the world to see you? +3 Blocks|
|Ace of Cups||you find the keys to your bindings, tucked away into a picture of someone you don't know (A/N: slightly adjusted for story purposes)|
He took out and touched up my face today. It felt fresh, it felt good. I wondered if this was the same as a human’s bath.
Eventually he sighed and apologized for our last conversation. “I just want you to be perfect,” he stroked the brush along my face. It felt right. It felt good. The brush, the paint, that device, it all felt like Life itself was blessing me.
But when he held up that mirror for me to see, I was looking at the face of a stranger. I wanted the painting of the soft haired woman back.
He scoffed again and said at least people will remember him and his brother after he had passed.
How long will it take him to realize? Will I have to wait for him to pass before I don’t have to pretend that I’m a... that man.
I wondered again that night, through the paintings of the house, up and down the floors, and into smaller bedrooms and bathrooms.
I paused in my painted realm looking at a series of open canvas windows stacked upon one another as if hidden away in a corner. I peered through them.
It was a vault, filled with coins from the far flung realms of the world. Some were gold, some silver, some green, blue, some inlaid with gems, some simple script paper. All of it untraceable. All of it extremely valuable, and all of it worthless to me.
What purpose does he have to hoard like a dragon? What will he do with his riches? How many others ended up like his brother?
And then I saw it amongst the gems, another living painting like myself. It was a woman, with a large frilly hat in a fashion far older than I can remember, holding a palette, and just like the one my creator has, a paintbrush with a device.
She waved at me, walked off her own painting and into mine. I asked her to change me. I asked her to make me into my own vision, I pleaded with her, but she laughed and simply handed me the brush, winked and went back to her own canvas.
I am no painter, I cannot make myself who I wish, so I simply placed it in my pocket for now, and headed back to my canvas.
|The Wheel of Fortune||Free will vs destiny -1 Block|
|7 of Wands||He gives you tasks and continues to make adjustments to you|
|Justice||Fairness vs Grace -1 Block|
|Queen of Swords||You meet another sentient piece of art, what connection do they have? What does she ask about him? Swords wants Revenge|
He still asks me those questions every day. And every day I answer the same. And every day he pulls that wretched brush and adjusts me, pokes me, prods me, tries to change me, tries to make me into something I’m not.
I feel like a child, subjected to the whims of a parent who doesn’t realize their child is a person and not a pet.
The paintbrush is burning a hole in my pocket. I have not used it. I am too afraid. What if I don’t become what I want? What if it makes me worse?
I returned to the woman with the hat. She looked surprised that I hadn’t used it and I confessed my hesitation.
She snorted and said whether or not I choose to use it, I’ll still be me. I don’t know how that makes me feel.
I asked her why she gave it to me and she winked again and said, “Oh, how is it fair to keep you locked up when you are your own person? Besides, the bastard needs to be reminded of his pace.”
I asked her what that meant, and she smiled and winked once more. I pressed again and she responded, “I just think you should make your own Decisions.”
Queen Secrets: 2/7
|Queen of Cups||you meet another painting, demure, beautiful, what does she have that you don't’?|
|4 of Cups||he tells you a story of a previous failed work +1 block|
|The Magician||your feelings about him as a creator -1 block|
|4 of Swords||Your creator refers to you by the wrong name, what does he call you? +3 Blocks|
I haven’t picked a name for myself, but still he insists on calling me by his brother’s name. It hurts each time. It stings, it feels wrong, I want to scream. But still I say nothing. What can I say? What would he do?
But still he saw the look on my face when he said it, and in a hushed warning tone, he told me of the painting he made of his mother. She didn’t turn out the way he wanted, she failed to remember--she failed to become.
He sighed. “But don't worry, I couldn’t destroy her. She’s just… locked away for now. “
That night I searched for her. She was in the attic. She wept when she saw me, embraced me, and called me by his name. I didn’t have the heart to tell her.
He had painted her like a queen, in a beautiful dress with long sleeves of lace, fine jewelry, and soft hands. I asked her if she remembered. She said it doesn’t matter, you can simply become.
She touched my face and simply asked, “Are you making him happy?”
I left without answering.
Queen Swords Secrets: 2/7
Queen Cups Secrets: 1/7
|Knight of Wands||Which part of you feels wrong?|
|8 of Cups||You are alone for a day +2 Blocks|
|The Tower||Disaster -1 Block|
|Judgment||how you feel as the masterwork -1 Block|
I used it. Just a small adjustment to the ring I had before. But he saw it. There was no way he wouldn’t. He had spent hours pouring over every minute detail.
At first he was furious. He didn’t understand where I got it from. I lied to him and said I was exploring in other paintings. He painted over it immediately.
It wasn’t his style, he said. It looked crude and unrefined, he sneered. It has to be done by him, he finally explained.
If I was his masterpiece, then all of me had to be created by him. There was no place for others. (There was no place for me.)
When he left, he placed the drape over me again.
I went back to the woman with the hat. She held my hand and gently removed the overpaint that he had done and twisted it so that my design faced my palm.
She hummed while she worked and patted me on the shoulder when she was done and told me there was more to the world than just the paintings in this home.
Queen Swords Secrets: 4/7
Queen Cups Secrets: 1/7
|6 of Wands||You begin to pick at a seam. What do you find? +2 Blocks|
|King of Cups||He tells you that you remind him of something bad.|
|King of Wands||He tells you that you are inadequate, and that your perceptions weren’t real.|
Kings: 4/4 Game Over
Queen of Swords: 4 + 3(Aces) = 7 / 7
Ending: Stolen Crown
He stood staring at me today, like all the other days before he told me that looking at my face reminded him of my final day. He shook his head and took out the brush once again.
But I stopped him. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I told him. I wasn't his brother. I was never going to be his brother, and that I couldn’t…
He sighed, fidgeted with the device one last time, then took out the palette knife.
He said I was confused, that the other paintings had tricked me. He just needed to replace my head and it would be fine.
The knife came so close but I fled. He stabbed through where the old seam had been, tearing another void into the world. I could hear him calling me as I fled into the painted landscape.
I ran back to the woman with the hat and into her arms. She held me tight in her arms.
“Take me away,” I begged, “Help me. Change me.”
She took the brush from my hand, then took my hand in hers, and stole me away deep further into the vault.
Corrupted Tarot Deck by Wyrmwood Gaming